Spend Less on Spices

Spend Less on Spices and Seasonings

By Erin Huffstetler | 02/21/2014 | 5 Comments
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At $3 or $4 a bottle, spices aren’t cheap, and they tend to clutter up your pantry in a hurry. Fortunately, I’ve found a simple way to keep the cost and clutter under control:

When I come across a recipe that I want to try, and it calls for a spice that I don’t have on hand, I buy enough from the bulk bins to make the recipe. If I decide the recipe is a keeper, I’ll buy a bottle of the spice to add to my collection.

Some Other Things I Do to Save on Spices:

Grind Your Own Spices

I grind my own. Sometimes whole spices are significantly cheaper than ground spices. I found that to be true when I needed cumin the other week. So, I bought a bottle of whole cumin, pulled out my coffee/spice grinder, and ground some myself. Doing this results in fresher spices than you’d get at the store because the essential oils aren’t released until you grind them, so it’s an all-around win.

Buy Spices in Pouches

I save my bottles and refill them. Bottled spices cost more, so I buy my spices in pouches when I can, and pour them into the bottles that I already have. I have a little funnel that I use for the job, so it’s an easy task. World’s Market and The Fresh Market are my go-to sources for spice pouches. This week I picked up a pouch of rosemary for $2.49, and after filling my bottle, I probably have enough left to fill it a second time.

Parsley

I grow my own. Most herbs are perennials or self-seeders, so once you plant them, they’ll come up on their own year after year. And they don’t require much care either. I only water mine if we’re in a long dry spell. In fact, the less water you give them, the more flavorful they’ll be.

During the growing season, I pick herbs as I need them. (I’ve even put up little plant markers, so I can send my kids or husband outside for a quick clipping of something when I’m busy at the stove). And to extend the savings into the rest of the year, I freeze and dry my herbs, too.

Homemade Spice Mixes

I make my own seasonings and spice blends. Most seasoning mixes are made from basic spices that I already have in my pantry, so I make them myself. Poultry seasoning, Italian seasoning, pumpkin pie spice, taco seasoning – they’re all really easy to make at home. Want to give it a try? You’ll find a bunch of my spice recipes here.

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Comments

  1. Caution–grinding whole cloves scratched up my the clear plastic reservoir on my grinder and the essential oils released gave it a clove smell for many washings.

    • I actually have a trick for cleaning the essential oils out of a grinder. I’ll be sharing it soon. Perhaps that needs to be a this week post 🙂

  2. Great ideas. I would also add a couple: grating whole nutmeg is way more awesome than already-ground nutmeg, and it’s easy to do with a microplane zester. Also the Mexican bagged spices are a great deal. I’m not sure about other places, but in California nearly every grocery store has a whole bunch of them.

    • Great tips, Ella. I’m so glad you mentioned Mexican bagged spices because I completely left that out. I like to pick up spices at a local Mexican grocery store, and I’ve found that International grocery stores in general can be a great places to buy spices on the cheap. Amish stores are another good place to stock up on spices, if you happen to have one in your area.

      • No Amish stores in Los Angeles, but I do regularly shop at Japanese and Korean markets. The Korean markets especially are great for a number of things, like coconut milk that are much more expensive at supermarkets. Also, things like mirren, curry powder, vinegars, miso, etc. are great deals there.

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